Sixteen candidates face off in lively Shorewood on the Sound Forum
Story & Photo by Justin Bennett
“The good part is – we get to hear from the unwilling, who are leading the ungrateful, and are elected by the apathetic…”
– Joe Cail, Director of the Shorewood on the Sound Community Club and organizer of
Tuesday night’s (Oct. 22) Candidate Forum at Shorewood Elementary School – as the night began.
Attendance of the roughly two-and-a-half hour forum ebbed and flowed with roughly 50 seats being filled at any one time. Residents heard from 16 candidates over the course of just over two hours. Seven candidates for commissioner positions on the Port Of Seattle, Eight Candidates for Burien City Council positions and one for a director position of the Highline School District.
In the case of the Burien City Council, many challengers spoke of a city council which seems to have lost touch with its citizens.
“We (the city council) need to figure out how to reengage and reconnect with the community in a positive way,” challenging candidate for Burien City Council position No. 7 Nancy Tosta said. “One of the reasons I decided to run is the disrespect that seemed to be exhibited towards the citizens and the residents in the community just struck me as being inappropriate. The council works for the community.”
“I have a lot of concerns about Burien,” said Debi Wagner, challenging candidate for position No. 3. Wagner spoke of concerns she heard from the community regarding the impending costs of Burien possibly annexing White Center. “Those were some of the concerns I brought to the council. They were not happy to hear from me, so I decided I would run for office to try and make a change, to make a difference in my town.”
Incumbent candidate Jack Block Jr. also spoke on the issue of a growing distance between citizens and council members.
“I feel that the majority of the council is not listening to the residents of Burien,” Block said. “The residents have spoken loudly, they do not want the next White Center. Yet, the current majority on council persisted in perusing that issue and that is endemic of the problems we have as a council on other issues.”
Other issues of police management, business regulation, and the Burien Town Square were brought up and discussed — all of which seemed to circle back to the need of the council to reengage and commune with its electorate.
A different type of challenging division was also brought up by the Port of Seattle candidates.
“In our cities we are having a difficult time,” said Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, who is choosing not to run for a fourth term in his city in favor of running for Port Of Seattle Commissioner position No. 1. “Within a few miles of me there is over thirty-four trucking firms and they couldn’t do business at the port, either port (Seattle and Tacoma). The two ports need to work together but there has been a difficulty doing that…We have two ports twenty miles apart and we’ve talked for decades about working closer together and nothings changed…We know that we can change and we know that we can make a difference. We know that we can have the highest and best use of the terminal area of the port to make our whole area more successful.”
Mayor Lewis went on to speak of the ever changing competition among ports around the world and the need for Seattle’s port to open all possible freight lines in order to maintain our viability as a world port and keep our citizens employed.
“Mayor Lewis from Auburn touched on one of the biggest problems of the port and that is the freight mobility,” said Michael Wolfe, challenging candidate for commissioner position No. 3. “We have a lot of challenges surrounding moving freight, not only off our docks but out of our airport. Right now a good chunk of the perishable crops that come out of eastern Washington…does fly out to Asia from Vancouver, BC not Seattle and we need to change that. It doesn’t make sense to send American crops out of a foreign port.”
“Speak(ing) internally,” said incumbent commissioner No. 4 Tom Albro, “the commission needs to guide the port in reconnecting with the community and making sure the things we do, as port authority — forget the word ‘port’ — as an economic development agency actually are in furtherance of the communities within King County and their economic ambitions.”
The Shorewood Forum as a whole was quite well organized, and the competing candidates well mannered. A sharp contrast from the mud-slinging slandering which was reported by The Seattle Times last week (read that here).
Candidates from both the council and port ends spoke of Burien as a growing community whose economic needs, and the needs of its citizens deserve to be heard.
The Washington State general election 18-day voting period began on Oct. 18 and ends on Nov. 4.